The first quality Cameron identifies that will characterize the organization best situated to meet the future with creativity and new life is a willingness to recognize that people are more likely to engage in an organization when the organization offers an experience rather than simply providing a service.

Many of us in the arts community are only beginning to appreciate that we have seen ourselves in service industry terms in a time of experience economies. Smart performing arts groups are expanding social lobby spaces, adding coffee bars, challenging themselves to extend the production into the lobby, engaging in re-branding and more—all a recognition that we traffic not merely in artistic production but in a total experience that begins with seeing the first ad, continues through the first call to the box office and doesn’t end until long after the audience member is home in bed.

Cameron here presents a curious counterpoint to his arguments about technology. Technology offers an essentially passive encounter. When people engage with the arts, as with a religious community, they are no longer content to be passive consumers. They are seeking real engagement.

People who choose to attend church, are not looking for a novel form of entertainment. They are seeking to encounter reality at a deeper level in their lives. Some mysterious force draws people to church. Their desire is to open more fully to this hidden mysterious urge and to explore what it might mean to live more deeply in tune with this reality we call God.

For people of Christian faith this should not come as a surprise. We are people of the Incarnation. For us, God comes embodied as a living being in the person of Jesus. God practices engagement with creation. The fullest reality of God for us is known in human interaction.

In the style of worship in which I most commonly participate we read Scripture aloud; we hear voices saying prayers; we sing songs; we touch each other; we move from one place to another to receive communion; we hold bread and taste wine. Everything points to involvement and connection. We do not worship alone. We gather as a community. We are surrounded by voices and bodies. We experience God among us as we encounter one another and as we each contribute our part in the work of worship.

Although profoundly personal and individual, Christian faith is also deeply corporate. When we experience the openness, love, warmth, and gentleness of community, we know we are experiencing the presence of the God who is known to us as love.

This does not require perfect music, spell-binding preaching, beautifully eloquent prayers, meticulous organization, or intricately choreographed liturgy. Experiencing the presence of God is far less difficult than we might imagine.

To experience God only requires hearts that are open. As we share in this corporate act of making ourselves vulnerable to one another and to the invisible Presence who permeates all existence we discover the deep connection that binds all creation into one. When we gather intending only to soften our hearts and express our love in worship, we cannot help but encounter that hidden force of love that resides at the heart of the universe and at the centre of our lives.

This experience will spill over beyond the walls of the church building into peoples’ daily lives. When we share in a corporate expression of openness and vulnerability to God, our lives are transformed by the experience of God’s presence. Jesus promised “Whenever two or three are gathered together in my name, I am with them.” To gather in Jesus’ name is to gather in the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus is the Spirit of love, gentleness, kindness, goodness, and truth. Where the Spirit of Jesus is present, the experience of love will transform our lives.


What do I anticipate when I engage in corporate worship?

What hindrances might there be that could inhibit worshipers from experiencing God’s presence in our corporate worship?

How can I contribute to supporting a worship atmosphere in my church in which all people are encouraged to make themselves vulnerable to one another and to God’s presence?